Rule of Law
The Anti-Gender and Anti-LGBTQI Mobilisation in Hungary and Poland

A Research Project by the Political Capital and Projekt: Polska
Political Capital, Projekt: Polska
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In recent years anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI mobilisation has intensified spectacularly in both Hungary and Poland. The topic has become one of the main elements of the politics of the Hungarian and Polish governments and governing parties, and one of the main tools of gaining and keeping political power. Besides the visible similarities, some differences can also be observed between the two countries.

In the frame of a research by the Political Capital, together with its Polish partner the Projekt: Polska Foundation aimed to reveal the evolution of the Hungarian and Polish anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI mobilisation, its political, social and legal contexts, main actors and narratives.

  • The research results can be found below, or in this short video:

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  • The comparative research report in English is available here.

Next to the research, the Political Capital have organised a closed-door roundtable discussion and a public conference, to provide space for actors affected by the mobilisation to exchange their experiences and ideas, and for joint thinking about the possibilities of countering the mobilisation.

The recorded live stream of the conference is available here, the summary can be read here.

The summary of the closed-door workhsop is available here.

In the frame of the project, two podcasts were produced:

  • Tamás Dombos (Háttér Society), Eszter Kováts (researcher with a recent PhD in the subject) and Márton Sarkadi Nagy (Átlátszó) analysed the Hungarian mobilisation in a Hungarian podcast.
  • Eszter Kováts (researcher with a recent PhD in the subject), Milosz Hodun (Projekt: Polska Foundation) and Dávid Víg (Amnesty Hungary) compared the Hungarian and Polish situation in an English podcast.

The project was supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Among other partners, who took part in the project, belong:

  • Milosz Hodun, President of the Projekt: Polska Foundation,
  • Kata Bálint, an analyst at Institute for Strategic Dialogue,
  • Eszter Kováts, an academic focusing on anti-gender politics,
  • Márton Sarkadi Nagy, a journalist at the Hungarian investigative portal Átlátszó.

The Main Results of the Research

Anti-Gender and Anti-LGBTQI Mobilisation in Hungary and Poland
© Political Capital
  • While the social context regarding anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI mobilisation is somewhat different in the two countries, the political context is quite similar.
  • Hungarian society is largely unreligious, individualistic, and objects to the state’s interference in private matters such as strict abortion rules. Polish society, in contrast, is much more religious with the Catholic Church having a significant influence on social issues and values. Together with this, in Poland, a fierce social resistance was organised against anti-gender and anti-LGBTQ mobilization.
  • In both countries, the governing parties, Fidesz in Hungary and Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) in Poland, have the same strategy for gaining and keeping political power and dismantling the democratic system based on the rule of law: they constantly picture their country as being under attack by some enemy against which they have a symbolic fight. With some time difference, by the end of the 2010s both have picked the alleged 'gender- and LGBTQI ideology/propaganda' as a key symbolic enemy.
  • Regarding LGBTQI rights, we can observe both similarities and differences. While in Poland basic rights, such as the civil same sex union or abortion are not granted, both countries are restrictive regarding policies intended to limit same-sex adoption and the legal recognition of gender change. Although both Hungary and Poland have banned sexual education and sensitisation towards LGBTQI communities from education, Hungary has been more restrictive in this regard, as it prohibits LGBTQI-related contents to be accessible for minors.
  • In both countries the main actor of the mobilisation is the governing party.
    • In Hungary, Fidesz has been the central actor since at least 20171. It supports in some way almost all the other actors and drives the prevalence of the topic by providing funds, organising events, shaping the public discourse, enacting policies, building partnerships, and founding new organisations.
    • In Poland, although PiS can be claimed to be the main actor as it has the most extensive resources for the mobilisation, it is strongly influenced by independent actors, such as the Catholic Church, which has a great influence on both public attitudes and policy-making in Poland, and the conservative think-tank, Ordo Iuris.
  • Both the Hungarian and the Polish actors have strong international connections in the topic. These connections have greater importance for the Hungarian government both in terms of building foreign influence and creating apparent international legitimacy. In Poland, international connections and coalition-building do not play such an important role in the mobilisation. Here mainly independent actors have a strong international network, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, of which they are in many cases the central actors.
  • Basically, the same anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI narratives can be observed in the mobilisation in Hungary and Poland. The main narratives in both countries picture the alleged 'gender and LGBTQI ideology/propaganda' as something that is attacking 'normality'.  Normality here can mean conservative values, children, and families. According to these narratives, the main disseminators of the alleged “gender and LGBTQI ideology/propaganda” are usually those who oppose the government in some way, such as the Liberals, the Left, the West/Brussels/EU.
Anti-Gender and Anti-LGBTQI Narratives in Hungary and Poland
© Political Capital

This article was originally published here.

About the Author

Political Capital is an independent policy research, analysis and consulting institute founded in 2001 in Budapest, with an extended network of professional partners. The organization conducts quantitative and qualitative policy research and organizes various debates. By doing that, the Political Capital promotes principles of parliamentary democracy, market economy, human rights and Euro-Atlanticism.